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Off the Record (Mar 2, 2016)

IF YOU'RE A TEN PERCENTER — the Marine Corps, circa 1957, estimated that ten percent of Marines had no idea what was happening — you won't know that Measure V has qualified for the June 2016 ballot. With Coastal Mendocino County firefighters leading the charge, some five thousand signatures were quickly affixed to widely circulated petitions to qualify the initiative, which is titled “Shall the People of Mendocino County Declare Intentionally Killed and Left Standing Trees a Public Nuisance?"

LOTS OF TIMBER OWNERS hack and squirt to remove non-commercial junk trees, most notably the County's largest timber owner, Mendocino Redwood Company. If Measure V passes, hack and squirters could be held liable for the dead standing trees left behind, especially if those trees ignite emitting, firefighters fear, not only spreading toxic smoke but turning small fires into big ones. Hack-and-squirt involves “hacking” a notch into unwanted trees, then “squirting” the notch with an herbicide to kill the tree.

A PLAGUE ON BOTH PARTIES. More and more people are not stating a political preference when they register to vote, such is the revulsion younger voters especially, feel for the oligarchy's twin political parties. Secretary of State Padilla says of California's 17.3 million registered voters 43 percent were registered as Democrats, 27% as Republicans, the rest decline to state. Padilla said despite increases in the population only 70% of those eligible to vote are registered. And of those, Padilla failed to mention, many fewer than half bother to show up at the polls.

MENDO’S TULE ELK HERDS are growing. Like the reintroduced wild turkeys, reintroduced Elk have multiplied to where ranchers in the North County — Covelo, Laytonville, the Coast in the vicinity of upper Westport, Willits, and Potter Valley, complain that roughly 300 of an overall total of the great beasts estimated at some four thousand, are wreaking havoc with their fences and crops.


CHURCHILL usually gets the credit for the old saw, “Any man who is not a socialist when he's twenty has no heart. Any man who is still a socialist at age forty has no head.” I've made it headless into my seventh decade, having been a socialist all my conscious days and, in my case, that consciousness light bulb fluttered on when I was about twenty from a combination of books and experience, inchoate as my great dawning was. It's surreal hearing ideas I've taken as obvious truth for fifty years being recited by Bernie Sanders on national television — not only being recited but resonating with millions of people, especially young people.

SANDERS gets derided by the hard left as merely a "nominal" socialist, more of an FDR liberal than whatever the hard left means by a real socialist. Well, there he is talking to millions, while the real socialists are still in the echo chamber checking each other's credentials. Bern's soft FDR-like socialism is much more workable here in our rapidly fraying country because Bern's socialism is based on nothing more radical than a fair system of taxation. FDR taxed the shit out of the rich, hitting the greedy bastards at 95% on the big incomes, of which there were then a lot fewer. Bern's proposals are at a positively wimpy 40%.

TO THIS SOCIALIST, almost all the left stuff I read is dependent on theoretical models that leave out the catastrophic damage that an industrial-based society has parlayed into an iffy future for the planet itself. Substituting the faculty socialists as bosses of smoke stack economies would be pretty much a lateral move, and simply continue the multiplying catastrophes. Which is why I'm drawn to James Kunstler, a libertarian doomer, who seems much more in touch with the social, eco-realities than, say, most contributors to CounterPunch. He's also a very lively, funny writer. The left hasn't had a lively, funny writer since Cockburn.

I SUSPECT that a lot of socialist thinkers would like to see themselves in the big black limos, meaning them as the ruling class in place of the present one. Which is what happened in the Leninist models of socialism that took power in Russia and China. It said, "You people are obviously too goddamn dumb and irresponsible to rule yourselves so we're going to run everything for you." To hold on to power these socialists murdered the opposition. Bernie is not that kind of socialist, hence his appeal to the millions of Americans shut out of Clintonia. I think he's this system's last hope, and I know in my bones Hillary can't be stopped, and I also know in my bones it's all poised to fall apart in unpredictable but predictably ugly ways.

AS A PROUD member of Public Radio Mendocino — oops, strike that. As a cringing but paid-up member of KZYX, and the station's senior banned person, preceding even Marco McClean and Mitch Clogg on that exclusive honor roll, having been non-personed even before the station went live, I regularly pay up simply as a community-minded thing to do. But I don't listen much, and when I do, well, I tend to wish I hadn't. I'm talking about the talk here, not the tunes. The tunes are swell, I guess, but I'm not a tunes guy except for an occasional aria, something inspirational, something that lifts us from the every day sordidness of present-day realities.

WHATEVER, as the young people say, but has NPR gone even fluffier? All those interviews with show biz people and non-verbal musicians, those burble-burble gush-gush nuzzlebum interviews by Scott Simon, America's premier audio ass kisser, has NPR ever been this oppressive.

STACEY CRYER, boss at the County's Health and Human Services agency, has resigned effective April 1st. Ms. Cryer has caught endless flak, much of it deserved, over the failed privatization of County mental health services, which have turned out to be virtually non-existent under the Ortner Management Group of Yuba City.

A READER SPECULATES on Stacey Cryer's exit: “Cryer probably resigned from equal parts personal and professional reasons. Considering she was responsible for too much — Child Welfare Services, Mental Health, and even Animal Care have all gone sideways. The Kemper report focused on what the County, including the CEO, County Counsel and Board of Supes, did and didn't do, but the main responsibility falls on the Mental Health Director, Pinizzotto, and the HHSA Director, Cryer, who are the ones who should have been expected to stay on top of the process, make sure it was implemented properly, and sound the alarm if there were serious problems. The Animal Care Request for Proposal also languished for six months while morale and conditions at the Shelter deteriorated and the frustrations of staff and volunteers increased.

Marlon Cryer, 2012
Marlon Cryer, 2012

“CRYER may also have been distracted with personal issues. AVA readers will recall that her husband was featured in the booking logs for a DUI while wearing a t-shirt that joked about problem drinking. In the end, HHSA may simply be too big and unwieldy for one person to manage effectively.”

(TO BE FAIR, because the County has essentially no management reporting systems in place, Cryer was left on her own with no oversight, supervision or support. If the County required the kinds of monthly departmental status reports we’ve long called for things would never have gotten this bad. She was also burdened with some very limited underlings in the various components of HHSA.)

A SECOND READER comments on the Cryer resignation: “The whole Shelter business — the Mountanos family, the moronic and nasty volunteers and so on, but in the end, Petaluma Animal Services did themselves in with a totally inept proposal. I have no idea what's going to happen with the shelter, or HHSA. But we either have to trust that the county and the Board of Supes are going to do the right thing, or realize nothing is going to improve in terms of the Shelter getting the budget and attention it needs. Ditto for Health and Human Services.”

THE FORT BRAGG ADVOCATE-BEACON is homeless. Sort of. The premises have been sold from under the venerable weekly (and the venerable ladies who run it) by the hedge fund outfit that is busily selling all the buildings of the County's chain-owned newspapers. The Advocate is renting space near the new Fort Bragg Taco Bell. The Ukiah Daily Journal building has been sold and will soon be yet another muscle boy spa. The Willits News building has been sold. The papers themselves have been on the market for several years with no takers.

SAD that for more than a hundred years these newspapers, the repositories of the only real history Mendocino County has, and all begun by people who lived here, are now hanging on by the slimmest of operating margins. The buzzards of chain-owned papers have taken over and, as of this writing, Media News Group become Digital First Media become Alden Global Capital has eaten them all, and the Advocate-Beacon has been marched out into the fog.

JedidiahJonesA READER WONDERS: “So when a lesbian commits a sex crime against a minor, it ain't published news? But when that mullet guy from Willits is held on a $1 million bail for a rape he was found not to have committed, it's news in all the local media?"

YEP, Mullet Man got a major blast by local media, but most places that DUI our supe of schools picked up a couple of weeks ago would also have been news.


ARIANA VELAZQUEZ, 33, of Mendocino was arrested February 21, 2016 for sexual assault by force, violence, threat, etc., sexual penetration of minor under 18, oral copulation with minor under 18, contributing to delinquency of minor under 18.

MENDOCINO COUNTY'S Retirement Board presides over a broke retirement fund, paying out much more than the fund generates from its investments, most of which are thrown down on the great roulette wheel of the stock market. The board has voted to consider options which, end result, could make retiree checks somewhat smaller.

StoenCover“MARKED FOR DEATH” is the title of Tim Stoen’s wholly unconvincing re-write of his history with Jim Jones and Jones' Peoples Temple. The cherubic Stoen — pushing 80 although he still looks like a Little Leaguer, an appearance that seems to have always won him the benefit of the doubt — portrays himself as heroically standing up to Jones, although he was only estranged from the "church" shortly before Jones murdered most of its parishioners in an extorted suicide ritual deep in the jungles of Guyana. Stoen claims, on the back cover of his book no less, that Jones "marked" him "for death" because Stoen, as always acting for Jones, had rigged a Frisco election for liberal mayor, George Mosconi. “At death, Jones exhorted his people in San Francisco to ‘get’ Stoen, resulting in Stoen being accused, falsely, of manipulating the 1975 mayoral election.”

SAY WHAT? The berserk pastor's last breath was an order to kill Stoen because of an already ancient scandal? Doubt it. Stoen hasn't attempted to refute David Talbot’s best-selling book, “Season of the Witch,” which makes clear that Stoen, from his position inside the SF DA's office, did indeed disappear the evidence related to widespread accusations of vote fraud in the 1975 San Francisco mayoral election.

BUT HOW CREDULOUS do you have to be to believe that in Jones’s last remaining moments (“at death”) he got on the phone to his San Francisco cult-members to order the surviving nutballs, “After I die, I want you to accuse that bastard Stoen of manipulating the mayoral election of '75.” Please.

NEW RESEARCH has found that sea levels are rising at the fastest rate they have in the past 2,800 years, due to manmade global warming. A team of international scientists from universities in the United States, Europe, and Asia used sea indicators from marshes, coral atolls, and sediment drilling cores to compare the past 100 years of data with historical sea-level variations from thousands of years ago. The scientists found that until the 1880s, the fastest seas rose was about 1 to 1.5 inches per century. However, sea levels rose 5.5 inches from 1900 to 2000 and since 1993, the rate has jumped to a foot per century. In two studies published Monday, researchers said by 2100 the world’s oceans will rise between 11 to 52 inches.

THE STATE'S Public Health department reports that the number of small fry getting immunized is up 7%. New legislation requires that students be vaccinated before they enter primary school or enter school at the seventh grade level. Required vaccinations include measles, mumps, and rubella, chickenpox and polio. State statistics for the 2015-16 school year show 1,000 Mendo County kindergarteners in public and private schools were fully inoculated out of 1,134 students reported, or 89 percent. That compared to 947 students a year before. Of course, and thanks to internet misinformation and pure dumb ass hippie hysteria, a large number of Mendocino County parents refuse to vaccinate their children, thus putting everyone else's children at risk from communicable diseases like measles, only a short time ago extinguished. There are ways around the vaccination requirement, unfortunately, and the fact that there's a dispute about the absolute necessity of vaccination is simply one more sign that Western Civ is on the downward slide.

DEMO ASSEMBLYMAN Kevin McCarty of Sacramento has introduced a bill that would mandate that gun sales be video-taped. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence says video recordings would stop those from buying guns for others who can’t pass background checks.

RECURRING RUMORS say that local high school girls are being prostituted through this website: The site is organized like Craig's List. Its intro reads "Mendocino classifieds. Post free ads for apartments, houses for rent, jobs, furniture, appliances, cars, pets and items for sale." But there's an "adult" section offering English and Spanish-language speakers "erotic massages" and "escorts." We recall that a Ukiah High School girl was arrested last year for prostitution, and it seems the practice may be continuing, facilitated by electronic messaging.


BIG NEWS in Crescent City the last couple of days. One of Tsunami Town's most prominent citizens and businessmen, Chris Renner of C. Renner Petroleum, was arrested in Ukiah on Monday (22 February) on charges of child molestation.

ACE PROSECUTOR PAUL SEQUIERA is leaving the Mendo DA's office for a position with Solano County. Sequiera's departure means Mendo is left with the DA himself as the only prosecutor in the office who brings the experience and the ferocity required to put away the more clever crooks. We're sorry to see Sequiera go. Smart guy, nice guy, and how often do you find that combination in a Mendo public job?

SEEMS awfully premature to call Trump a fascist, let alone a Nazi. He'd have to be smarter, have to have a plan, have to be a lot more coherent than he is. But he is in the American fascist tradition of Father Coughlin, Billy Sunday and farther back, the xenophobes of the Know Nothing Party.

TODAY'S fascist-oriented thinking has the big megaphones, though, what with Limbaugh and the whiz-bang excitements of Fox News and the rest of the shills for the rich, but the fascists of yesteryear were nowhere nearly as influential as the propagandists of reaction are today. Trump has benefitted from years of Fox News-Limbaugh site prep, although he doesn't have coherent opinions about anything — yet. Wait til he signs on his Cheney.

WHAT AMAZES ME is how the rich have managed to convert themselves into underdogs, persuading millions of US that government is their problem, not the rigged system the rich have put in place. And millions of US faithfully vote against ourselves! WTF? As late as the middle 1950s, the one percenters were taxed at 95%. Ordinary incomes weren't hit hard at all. And the revenue went mostly to basic amenities that we could all see and benefit from, except the ever-expanding cost of empire squandered on a demagogic military. Trump will make the economy even more unfair, and a lot uglier. And he'll beat Hillary like a drum on his way to the presidency.


HERE AT THE AVA we're already reconciled to votes for Jill Stein of the Green Party. Yes, yes we know. A vote for Jill is a de facto vote for Trump. In your opinion. In ours it's a vote for our political principles, however tattered.

ENCOURAGING TO SEE the Willits School Board interviewing candidates for their district's superintendent rather than contract out hiring to that self-alleged edu-talent outfit that most outback school districts resort to to find their school chiefs.

SCHOOL BOARDS have lost much authority to state and federal agencies and, by paying thousands of dollars to sub out the selection of a school chief, they cede more of what little authority they have, eroding accountability as they go. If the school board selects the boss the school board can be held accountable if that superintendent, as is likely, turns out to be… Well, turns out to be the Mendocino County Office of Education.

GREAT AFFRONTS TO POWER are needed now more than ever. Here's one you may not have heard of. Since 1996, the early days of the worldwide web, has been quietly humming away, publishing revealing secret documents from sources of all kinds, often several times a week. It's run by John Young, a Vietnam-era radical, described by the London Review of Books as a "cantankerous repeller of journalists who keeps himself to himself."

YOUNG'S website is plain red links on a white page. Not many people have heard of Cryptome, but if you like Wikileaks, you'll definitely appreciate Cryptome.

SPIKE DOES THE RIGHT THING. Spike Lee has endorsed The Bern. In a commercial now airing around the country, Lee says, "I know that you know the system is rigged. For too long we [black people] we have given our vote to corporate puppets. Ninety-nine percent of Americans were hurt by the great recession of 2008, and many are still recovering. And that's why I am officially endorsing my brother Bernie Sanders. Bernie takes no money from corporations. Nada. Which means he is not on the take. And when Bernie gets into the White House, he will do the right thing."

SPIKE'S ENDORSEMENT came too late for the saps of South Carolina where roughly eight in ten black voters went for Clinton.

THAT LONG-VACANT FJORD’S BUILDING on North State Street in Ukiah - and its iconic sign - may have a future after all. A Ukiah realtor said last week that the property is now in escrow. The former Fjord’s Smorgette building may become an In 'N Out Burger. The sign, we hope, will remain as the County landmark it is.


DEBRA? DEBRA KEIPP? White courtesy telephone, please. A reader says, "Point Arena appears to be up to some more mischief. Mayor Jim Koogle claims that the City has lost all records, and has none to show to a local business owner in town who has filed a Coastal Development Permit for a new building. 'Absolutely lost it all due to changing councils, new managers, and forced exits of staff controlling such information,' according to The Koog."

HOW TO SILENCE your critics, Mendo style. James Marmon was fired as a County social worker because he refused to be a party to the illegal seizure of children, arbitrarily plucked from their natural parents. Marmon has been a stalwart critic of the agency and its hierarchy ever since. Rather than address the issues he raised, County CEO Carmel Angelo, and several of Marmon's former supervisors, claim that not only does Marmon the man scare them, but his emails do, too, and off to court the County mice went to get a restraining order against him and his electronic opinions. At no point has Marmon threatened any of these people. And now they want an extension of the original restraining order against Marmon. We hope Marmon demands a hearing before this preposterous order is simply rolled over by our easily rolled Superior Court.


  1. Nate Collins March 4, 2016

    “Which is why I’m drawn to James Kunstler, a libertarian doomer, who seems much more in touch with the social, eco-realities than, say, most contributors to CounterPunch.”
    Indeed and maybe it is because he has a tradition and a background (waaay to conservative for most) and he’s not a self invented oracle that there is some prescience and context to what he says.
    I am drawn to Kunstler like I am drawn to writers like Neil Postman and Lewis Mumford and Rene Guenon. Indeed they have a brightness to them that these whole schools of “radicals” are devoid of. There are books of dead radicals that have that brightness. I always thought Bakunin did.
    I was thinking about Kunstler the other day and I concluded that he is in the same vein as an avant garde Islamic traditionalist. You may think at first that he is way to secular for such a comparison. I say no, if you look at his school of thought by for example looking at his website and listening to the guest podcasts you would see that his revolt is quite spiritual indeed (not in the hokey pokey sense). The East and the West are both beset by neo-fundamentalist forces from within, usurping the power and vision of the society to betray their loftiest ideals.
    “has NPR ever been this oppressive.”
    No it has not and neither has radio in general.
    Even sports radio is extremely oppressive these days with the rise of the oppressed white male (ala KNBR Murph, Mac, Conner, Krueger) All very gay positive and liberal enough but truly embattled white males in the most Trumpo sense whose ideology lies just oozing at the surface, benign and barely detectable. Have you listened to Ron Owens and his undying commitment to nuclear energy, if there were a bigger ass with more oppressive opinions I’d be shocked.
    Willie Brown is stupider than Ben Carson.
    Phil Matier is good and interesting.
    Jan Wahl who does the movie stuff on KCBS was doing an Oscars extended segment with Willie Brown the other day. They were extolling the virtues of the movie Spotlight, of which I agree. Jan Wahl then went on to say that it was a shortcoming of the movie that we were not able to “see” what it is that the priests were actually doing to the kids, that it was not depicted in the movie. I listened to the 20 minute plus segment again when it aired just to make sure I heard it right.
    Radio is downright screwy if you listen with a discerning ear at strategic times. Well I guess its still an exciting listen then, as long as we can talk about what is wrong with it. CHEERS!

  2. Nate Collins March 6, 2016

    Just to be clear I meant that the critique of the bankruptcy of western culture from James Kunstler is nearly identical to the critique offered by Islamic traditionalists.

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